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The price paid for discounting the social and political impact of your decisions is going to be high.

Liberal National government acting in sync with public sentiment on national sovereignty.

Liberal National government acting in sync with public sentiment on national sovereignty.

When Australian Opinion Research asked a representative cross section of 5360 Australian voters in the period leading up to the September 2013 Federal election what were the five issues most important to them they recorded the following response:

Issue

%

Rank

Reduce cost of living pressure (particularly electricity and gas)

48

1

Create a better health system

46

2

Put Australia’s interests ahead of foreign interests

40

3*

Protect Australian assets from foreign takeover

35

4*

Remove the carbon tax

30

5*

Protect farmland from mining companies & foreign buyers

29

6*

Support Australian small business

26

7*

Increase financial support for Australia’s school system

23

8

 

Items ranked 3-7 above are arguably all aspects of national sovereignty i.e. protection of Australia’s interests and a large component of the overall mood of the country. In many ways, the asylum seeker issue appears to come under this umbrella notion that Australians should be the ones to decide who comes here rather than any outside bodies or individuals.

Notwithstanding, any government must weigh up the international consequences of its national policy against the overall interests of the nation and this is by no means easy when Australian business is looking more and more to the rest of the world for its growth.

Admittedly this survey was taken at the end of the Labor era but suffice to say, the Liberals are starting from a voter base which is highly cynical. Globalism does not hold much appeal to “Joe Public” across the globe according to all the surveys I have seen yet the politicians and their globally focused bureaucrats appear to be determined to turn the planet into a one big vanilla gumball as argued in a recent opinion piece for the Washington Post, December 7, 2013 “There’s no such thing as a global citizen”,  by Jakub Grygiel, Associate Professor of International relations at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Gygiel points out  that schools like his are “increasingly being called upon to educate ‘global citizens’ who belong to the world rather than their nation of birth or state of choice” in the naïve belief that if we could all just get together, we would be able to solve everything from climate change to terrorism. According to a “global-citizenship education guide” issued by Oxfam, teachers must convince students that the world is unfair and that the North (hemisphere) is richer than the South (hemisphere) and that this social injustice must be redressed. According to Gygiel, implicit in the argument for global citizenship is the notion that pursuit of the national interest is dangerous because it undermines the possibility of solving global problems. But Gygiel worries that by giving up a clear sense of national identity and a powerful belief in the necessity of the right to protect national interests, we are dooming the educational landscape to unparalleled blandness where an idealised view of a global community rather than the reality of a particular group in which we live, will deprive nations of the ability to defend their interests and maintain their wellbeing. Still, it is apparent that schools are embracing this “global citizen” concept with particular zeal but according to Gygiel, it is what policy schools have been teaching for decades.

To Gygiel the perspective is wrong way around. Citizens are part of a group. They stand on the battlefield or in the public square for love of their community and from this attachment is a sense of responsibility and the motivation to act. Without it, action is meaningless.

 In short “a global citizen cannot exist because to love everyone is to love nobody and nothing. Global says Gygiel, is an abstract that sweeps away differences which makes us human and part of the human zoo. “A uniform polity is a deeply unnatural and ultimately inhuman undertaking.”  Totalitarian Russia’s mid 1960’s experiment with the African states at Patrice Lumumba University ended in failure and instability rather than solutions for peace. Africa still quivers from this chaos. Both Gygiel and this writer suspect a similar outcome from the current round of idealism.

As far as Australia is concerned this wellspring of cynicism about government intentions is borne out in the following data also collected by Australian Opinion Research pre-election:

Statement

Percentage who say they believe the statement (%)

Most politicians appear more concerned with corporate interests than they do with the people who elected them.

75

The Australian government is selling off Australia to foreigners at an alarming rate.

67

Some well-known politicians take their orders from the unions

61

Some well-known politicians take their orders from corporations

60

Pharmaceutical companies in conjunction with government try to scare people into having more medicines than they need simply to make more money

50

The US largely controls Australia’s foreign policy

43

What happened in Cyprus recently when the govt. took money out of peoples bank accounts to bail out the banks could happen here.

31

The Australian govt. would never privatise our water supply.

14

We can trust the govt. to do the right thing as far as coal seam gas is concerned.

11

Most governments appear to large extent bound by international treaties and conventions that they may have been signed up in a fog of exuberance and festivity some years back.  For example, the current Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP),  poorly publicised in the mainstream media and potentially sovereignty threatening despite assurances to the contrary from the Trade Minister and arguments from the Foreign Minister. It is evident that any government which supports naïve globalisation slogans created by people whose careers depend upon their uptake, will be punished at the ballot box whereas those railing against such simplistic notions are likely to be rewarded. At least that is the way Jakub Gygiel would see it.

On the surface at least, the new government appears to be on the public’s side of the argument but it is early days. Some of the mainstream media appear substantially out of step with this position unless they see it as their role to manipulate public opinion rather than to stimulate it.

Copyright Checkmate Analytics 2014.

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